What the Coker brothers and their collaborators have created with ‘New Masters’ is truly something unique, filled to the brim with deep emotional character work alongside the Afrofuturism science fiction heart that beats within this gorgeous series. We’re given just bits about this world, leaving so much to explore still, but enough to allow us to follow and fall in love with the title characters. We need more of this series, more of this story.
Through their first five issues, New Masters creators Shobo and Shof Coker have been steadily building out a fantastical world that is much like our own but different after many years of various alien elements being incorporated into this world. A variety of political, greedy, and other motives have been on display as different entities seek to control a specific archive of information. At its heart, though it’s been the story of Ola Reis and her family, and the bond that is so strong between that family both biological and found.
This is perfectly on display within the final issue as the all-out war teased at the end of the previous issue takes almost a back seat to the characters and their connections and Ola finding her voice and using it. In a way, this is very much a story about the new generation and their finding ways to break the cycles of the old and bring actual potential change to the world. This is what is supposed to happen when it comes to new generations and the eventual replacement of the old within power positions.
Shobo leads us through plenty of deep character moments, allowing the characters and plot a lot of room to breathe while also presenting a story that reads so smoothly that you finish it, and it feels like no time at all has passed. Having all the battles be things that are happening from a distance, having Stein sniping the enemy soldiers, as we focus on the tense stand-off within including the opera singer Ms. Rossignol turning out to be a spy traitor in their midst the whole time. Near the end, there is more of the action in the forefront, but it’s still anchored by the overarching character motives and conflicting desires.
Through this series Shof has shown us such a lush and detailed world, every panel and page being dense and detailed and full of amazing energy. Here we get a lot of frantic energy, mirrored by the way the panels start to shift positions and shape the more we go on, as so many opposing forces are butting heads at the same time. At the same time, all that excellent focus on character and emotions is picked up within the artwork as we can feel everything the characters are just by gazing upon them or reading their body language.
Shof and Harrison Yinfaowei, with continued assistance from Julmae Kristoffer, continue to bring the same Earthy and sort of toned-down colors that filled the previous issue. Including various pops of natural and unnatural colors all over the place. Most of this issue takes place at night, bringing more of a shadowy heaviness to the colors at large and they just hit the right atmospheric tones for what night feels and looks like in so many cases.
Frantic but also smooth and flowing would be a good way to describe the lettering on display here, as we get a lot of dialogue between characters and a lot of great work to showcase tone/volume. Normal sort of size fonts are used for normal conversation, with big giant balloons with a big giant font for yelling (a lot of yelling going on here) or shrunk font and balloons for whispering. It slides around the pages and compliments the art while also making itself very much felt and seen at any given moment, much like the variety of SFX bits that can be found, either being loud and in your face or softer and more natural to the given moment in time.
New Masters has been a fantastic family and character Afrofuturist science fiction tale, and reading the final note from the creators, the choice to focus on Ola rather than her being just in the background was a fantastic one. As mentioned above, this is the story of youth and destiny and changing the world. What a true delight it has been to read this series.
New Masters #6 is now available from Image Comics.